Cavities are holes or structural damage in teeth, and it’s the second most common condition in adults and children. Only the common cold is experienced more frequently than cavities. Cavities, also known as tooth decay or caries, can form due to a variety of reasons including frequent snacking, drinking sugar-sweetened drinks and not cleaning your teeth well.
How to Know If You Have a Cavity
Some dental cavities are obvious, but some are not. It depends on the location of the decay and how advanced it is. Sometimes you’ll know you have a cavity when you experience mouth discomfort. Other cavities you won’t detect until you actually see them.
What Is a Cavity and How Do They Form?
Cavities are tooth decay that progresses due to plaque. Dental plaque is a clear sticky film that coats teeth. The film forms when you eat sugars and starches and don’t clean your teeth thoroughly.
When this film is allowed to remain on your teeth, the bacteria in your mouth feeds on it and produces acid which is strong enough to wear away the enamel of the tooth.
Signs of a Cavity
If a cavity is in its earliest stages, you may not detect it at all. As tooth decay progresses, you may experience toothache pain for no apparent reason, tooth sensitivity, or mild or sharp pain when eating or drinking something hot or cold.
Other signs of cavities are when you can actually see a pit in your tooth; brown, black or white stains on your tooth surface; or if you feel pain or discomfort when you bite down.
What Happens at the Dentist If You Do Have a Cavity
Your dentist will take an x-ray to see how far the cavity has progressed into the tooth. Depending on how far the cavity has progressed, you dentist may put a filling in the tooth to fix it. If the decay is extensive, your dentist may replace the tooth with a crown or perform a root canal.
How to Prevent Cavities
- Brush often: Plaque begins to build up on teeth within 20 minutes after eating. Your first line of defense for cavity prevention is to brush your teeth often and thoroughly, especially after you eat or drink starchy or sugary foods or beverages.
- Consume foods and drinks that are good for your teeth: Cut down on foods that get stuck in the grooves of your teeth for long periods of time, such as potato chips, especially when you can’t brush your teeth right away. Or brush immediately after eating foods that stick. Foods that are good for your teeth, such as fresh fruits and vegetables, can help improve your dental health by increasing saliva flow. Substances found in saliva help to counter the acid produced by bacteria. Beverages, such as unsweetened coffee and tea, as well as sugar-free gum, help sweep away food particles.
- Don’t eat or drink after bedtime toothbrushing: Don’t eat or drink anything with sugar in it after you’ve brushed your teeth for the night. Your saliva flow drops when you’re sleeping. Without enough saliva, teeth can’t repair themselves as well after an acid attack.
- Get regular dental checkups: See your dentist regularly for checkups to spot cavities in their earliest stages. Also, dental sealants can be applied to your teeth to protect against cavities forming.
Regular dental visits are an essential part of protecting your oral health. Make an appointment today with Central Dental Health which offers a full range of general, cosmetic, and advanced dental services in a comfortable, friendly and relaxed atmosphere.